Meridian Star

January 8, 2014

Police, sheriff's departments release holiday stats

By Brian Livingston / blivingston@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Law enforcement agencies all across the nation participated in their versions of safety and enforcement initiatives to try and keep roadways and neighborhoods safe.

    In Meridian and Lauderdale County, agencies conducted programs and operations to try and meet the goal of everyone having a safe and happy holiday season. Whether they participated in the seat belt safety program, Click It or Ticket, or the DUI enforcement campaign, Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over, or maybe even both, agencies such as the Meridian Police Department and the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department strived to make the immediate area a safe place in which to shop, gather with friends and family, or just enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

    "Each year we work extra hard to make sure our roadways are as safe as possible," said Ward Calhoun, chief deputy of the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department. "The last thing we want to see is a family negatively impacted by the serious injury from a car accident or the loss of a family member's life. These are supposed to be happy times."

    Calhoun said the LCSD took part in both safety campaigns. In total, Calhoun said deputies with the LCSD wrote a total of 222 citations ranging from non-insured motorists to seat belts.

    Included in the report sent into the local law enforcement liaison for the safety programs were 23 DUI arrests, five felony arrests, 13 drug arrests and the capture of 25 fugitives from justice. Calhoun also said the report showed only 32 seat belt violations and five child restraint violations which were encouraging.

    "The figures collected for this report are the result of countless hours deputies manned safety checkpoints all across the county," Calhoun said. "We certainly commend them on their dedication."

    MPD Lt. John Griffith said the overall statistical report from the department was not completed but he did release information pertaining to two operations conducted during Thanksgiving and on New Years that provided a snapshot of the work done by the officers.

    According to the report sent by Griffith, the MPD ran several details throughout the holiday season utilizing officers who were called in to man the city streets and neighborhoods. The results of these operations left MPD Chief James Lee pleased.

    "The officers of the MPD went above and beyond the call of duty by ensuring the safety of the residents and those people who came to Meridian to shop or visit family and friends," Lee said. "I just want to congratulate the officers on a job well done and I, and I'm sure a majority of residents, thank them for putting forth such a tremendous effort."

    Thanksgiving and the following huge shopping day called Black Friday was the first target of the operations, according to the report. Lee said the overall aim was to keep everyone who came to Meridian safe. The report said officers were concentrated in the retail sections of Meridian including Bonita Lakes Mall, the Wal-Mart locations on the north and south ends of the city, and Meridian Crossroads next to the interstate where retail shops and restaurants are numerous. The report stated the Black Friday detail's result was that only one auto burglary was reported during this entire period.

    "We made sure the officers were numerous and visible," Lee said.

    The report said the second anti-crime operation was focused on New Year's Eve night. The report said eight checkpoints were set up throughout the city with extra officers in the quads to assist with the increase in call volume.

    As outlined in previous reports, Lee, in an effort to keep officer coverage all across the city without officers having to travel great distances to answer a call, divided the city into four zones. Each of these zones is further divided into quadrants, or quads for short.

    The report said the checkpoints themselves produced 63 citations for traffic violations, six DUI arrests, eight felony drug arrests and four misdemeanor drug arrests. Since January 3, 2014, the report said as a result of increased police presence into the quads, a total of 224 traffic citations were handed out, 12 DUI, four felony drug, six misdemeanor drug, and 25 other misdemeanor arrests were made.